ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Jim Caldwell came into Detroit in January and from the outset has tried to instill discipline and accountability in hopes of turning the LIons from one of the perennial losers in the NFL to a consistent winner.
He has been around winning franchises before, so he surmises he has seen what it takes to win. And he said Monday that he believes this Detroit team has similar characteristics to the winning squads he has coached before.
So how does he plan to do finish this rehabilitation of the Lions' image from 0-16 in 2008 to their current competitive-but-not-quite-enough state?
“It all depends on me,” Caldwell said. “I’m responsible for each and every little thing that goes on in this program. Bar none. Wins and losses. Conduct. Every single phase. Offense, defense, special teams, it all runs through me.
“So there is not anything that I don’t have responsibility for that doesn’t fall upon my shoulders.”
That includes the positive -- no players arrested this offseason -- and the negative -- same old penalty issues at times during the preseason. It includes making sure his players understand what is expected of them, what is allowed and what is prohibited.
On the field, that will rely on both a successful run game and stopping the run along with cutting down on the aforementioned penalties and on turnovers, which was a major issue for the Lions in 2013.
Off the field, it is a little bit different than when he was a college coach at Wake Forest and sold parents and guardians of prospects that he would be monitoring everything in their child's life during his time in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Now he’s dealing with NFL players, so he treats them as the men they are.
This has been mentioned multiple times by various players since Caldwell’s hire, and the players are appreciative of that.
“We still hold them to the same standards that anybody else would working for any other company. That they are still responsible for their own personal conduct, that we don’t hold their hand outside of this building,” Caldwell said. “I think it is our responsibility to make sure that we educate them and we do that on a daily basis. We talk about everything that comes up, every instance.
“Today we’ll discuss in detail the new policy the NFL just released in terms of domestic violence. We will talk about it in detail and that’s our responsibility to make certain that we do that and if we don’t do that, that’s my problem. That’s my fault.”
Caldwell has been straightforward with his players since the beginning of his tenure, and there’s little reason to think he won’t be when it comes to how he expects players to act on the field and off.
As far as the domestic violence policy instituted by the league -- where a first offense could be a six-game suspension without pay and a second offense could be anywhere from a year-long suspension to a lifetime ban -- Caldwell seems in favor of it.
“My thoughts are just like anything else with the NFL decides is best for the league,” Caldwell said. “That there are rules we should enforce and make certain we should enforce. We should support them wholeheartedly and make certain that our team understands them explicitly from top to bottom and even the spirit of the rules.
“So I’m certainly in favor of it and thus will express that to the team.”